The Black Crowes
The Black Crowes were formed in Atlanta, Georgia in 1989 by brothers Chris and Rich Robinson. In 1989, the group—rounded out by lead guitarist Jeff Cease, bassist Johnny Colt, and drummer Steve Gorman—headed into the studio and crafted their excellent debut Shake Your Money Maker. Black Crowes wore their influences on their sleeve, crafting catchy blues rock that harkened back to '60s and '70s groups like Aerosmith, the Rolling Stones, the Allman Brothers, and the Doobie Brothers. Shake Your Money Maker was a huge success, selling over three million copies. Its success was driven by the pair of No. 1 mainstream rock singles "Hard to Handle" and "She Talks to Angels." While the later was penned by the Black Crowes, "Hard to Handle" is an Otis Redding song and a popular live tune for Grateful Dead. "Jealous Again," "Twice As Hard," and "Seeing Things" also received substantial radio play.
The group returned with a strong follow-up in 1992 with The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. The disc shot straight to No. 1 on the Billboard Albums Chart on the back of No. 1 single "Remedy." It also signaled the first of the personnel changes that would plague the band through its career. Though they replaced their lead guitarist, Rich Robinson, with the help of new guitarist Marc Ford, picked up the slack, crafting a riff-heavy LP that was named in Guitar World Magazine's Top 100 greatest guitar albums of all time. The album, and the Crowes' relentless touring, helped solidify the band as one of the era's best live rock bands.
Though the group would never quite reach the commercial heights of its first two albums, 1994's Amorica, 1996's Three Snakes and One Charm, 1999's By Your Side, and 2001's Lions were all successful. While they didn't sell as well as their predecessors, that was probably more due to the mainstream's shift from the rock 'n' roll of the early '90s, to the pop music that became more popular in the middle-to-late '90s, than the overall quality of the albums. After touring to support Lions, the Black Crowes took a three-year hiatus from 2002-2005.
With an almost entirely new line-up (only the Robinson brothers remained), Black Crowes reformed in 2005 and released their 2007 LP Warpaint. Without the aid of a major label, Warpaint was still a massive success, hitting No. 5 on the Billboard Album Charts. The record was a stunning return to form, considering all the line-up changes, but it sold well and critics fell in love with it. It was the group's most poplar record since The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. On August 31st, 2009, the Black Crowes released Before the Frost…Until the Freeze in two parts. The first disc, Before the Frost, came out as a single CD, while Until the Freeze was a download only. It also came out as a double-vinyl featuring all the songs on the two CD's spliced together in a different order. The album was recorded in Woodstock, NY and has received good reviews. Looks like the Black Crowes are paving their way as one of the more enduring bands of rock 'n' roll.
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